Analysts say SADC lacks collective will to break Zim impasse

 HARARE - Political analysts were pessimistic on Tuesday that a planned regional summit could break Zimbabwe's power-sharing deadlock, saying the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) bloc lacked the collective will to force the country's rival political leaders to form a government of national unity.

University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunugure called on the SADC to refer the Zimbabwe deadlock to the African Union (AU) after the bloc’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security failed on Tuesday to cajole Zimbabwe’s political leaders to agree on the composition of a unity government.

The Organ recommended the holding of an emergency SADC summit to tackle the Zimbabwe impasse after it failed during a 13-hour meeting that began Monday and ended Tuesday to convince President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to reach agreement on sharing of key ministerial posts in a unity government.

Masunungure saw little hope that an extraordinary SADC summit could succeed where its key Organ – made up of Swaziland, Angola and Mozambique – had failed. Regional economic superpower and chairman of SADC, South Africa, also attended the flopped Harare meeting.

There is not much that SADC can do except to rely on the good faith of the Zimbabwe protagonists, Masunungure said. After Monday’s failure, surely SADC should throw in the towel and refer the matter to a higher level – AU.

The SADC and the AU are guarantors of the September 15 power-sharing agreement that proposes retaining Mugabe as president while making Tsvangirai prime minister and another opposition leader Arthur Mutambara deputy prime minister in a unity government.

The deal that is seen as the best opportunity for ending Zimbabwe’s unprecedented economic and political crisis has stalled over who between Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party and Tsvangirai’s opposition MDC party should control the most powerful ministries.

Tsvangirai has accused Mugabe of power grabbing after the veteran President insisted on retaining key ministries, among them defence, home affairs, foreign affairs, local government and media and information.

The opposition leader, who pressured Mugabe to surrender the finance ministry, insists he should also control home affairs if Mugabe retains defence.

Another political scientist, Michael Mhike said it was not impossible to find a way out of the impasse over sharing of Cabinet portfolios but said much depended on Mugabe and Tsvangirai’s good faith and willingness to work together in a spirit of trust and confidence.

But Mhike was quick to point out that: Sadly, these crucial elements are lacking and I cannot see them germinating, let alone growing and flowering in the near future . . . it all looks pretty pessimistic.

He also suggested that the SADC probably needed to get tougher especially with Mugabe who appeared intent on keeping most of the power to himself although he doubted there were many in the region with the stomach to stand up to the veteran Zimbabwean leader, who is still adored as a hero of Africa’s anti-colonial struggle.  

Mhike said: They (SADC leaders) need to honestly acknowledge the problem in Zimbabwe and identify where the source of the malaise is and deal with it decisively. Somehow, I doubt they have the spine to do it. Many of them seem to be far too much in awe of Mugabe.

A Zimbabwean-born South Africa businessman, Mutumwa Mawere suggested that in the event that no deal could be reached on the distribution of ministerial posts then the only option left would be to directly consult Zimbabweans themselves about who they wanted to lead them.

He said: The other option is to go back to the people and let people decide on who should be the president through a legitimate, free and fair election supervised by a non-partisan actor.

A power-sharing government will have to move with speed to end Zimbabwe’s economic crisis that is seen in the world’s highest inflation of 231 million percent, acute shortages of food, fuel, electricity, hard cash and every basic survival commodity. – ZimOnline

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